Review: Meadowlark Audio Kestrel Speaker

Category: Speakers

I purchased a pair of Kestrel's in the summer of 2001 on the recommendation of a friend and subsequent listening at Soundings in Denver. The listening room I initially heard them in was a bit too warm and confining, yet they shined like a beacon. These speakers continue to astound friends of mine who aren't die hard "audiophiles" and or lean toward being hard core metal head rock and rollers.
The depth of bass response and clairity of the high end is still chillingly unbelieveable even after extended listening. James Taylor's "Gaia" from the Hourglass recording (track 4) has incredible bass drum reproduction and realism, from such small bass drivers. My girlfriend still is startled when a song has ended and another begins because the quite interlude between tracks is so silent and deep. The listening room I have set up is far from perfect yet soundstaging and image never fail to appear realistic and touchable. I have taken these speakers to other peoples houses to "test" them an I find set up is easily done for almost any listening room. I did buy a set of isolation cones and prefer to use three cones for contacting the floor rather than using Meadowlark's supplied spikes. I listen to a wide variety of music from Junior Brown to Brahms to Frank Zappa and every listening of my collection brings out new detail I have been missing with my old Polk Audio's. I still cannot believe the imaging I get from these speakers even after about 700 hours of listening. I originally powered these speakers with a Kenwood 3500 and they were phenomenal performers. I recently purchased an Adcom 535 Mk II and they sound beter than ever. I will eventually upgrade to some higher end speakers such as Dunlavy or Aidelon but until I do these will be benchmark speakers for the money and response. (Aloof snobbish audiophile friends of mine often show up un-announced to listen and usually bring a bottle or two which is an unexpected bonus of ownership.) I have found only one problem with these loudspeakers...sometimes I dont get as much work done as I should. I often work at home and will find myself sitting and listening to the likes of Willie Nelson's "Teatro" or John Rutter's "Requiem" wondering how I got along without these speakers for so many years. I know I will have these speakers for many years to come. I recently started to incrementally "hot-rod" these speakers (damped speaker baskets and improved wire/ posts etc) and the sound just keeps improving. For lower priced "high-end" speakers I don't think these can be beaten. I don't feel the need to review products or often make any sort of endorsement but these Kestrels have made me do it. I found my Kestrels through Audiogon and have been a fan of this site ever since.

Associated gear
Adcom GFA 535 MkII

Similar products
Shearwater and hot rod Kestrels
I do not own a pair of the Kestrels, but a few years ago I attended the CES in Chicago and listened to about 40-50 different speakers in the high-end show, many costing upwards of $10,000.00 a pair. The only speakers I was impressed with were the Meadowlark Kestrels. They were by far the least fatiguing and most natural speakers I heard. Afterwards, reading specifications and reviews, I started to think that I would not be able to live with the lack of powerful and/or deep bass, but I am impressed enough by your review to revisit them and others in the Meadowlark line.

I too own the Kestrels (hotrods) and absolutely love them! I am using them in a home theater set up with the Meadowlark Petrel center channel. I use an NAD c-270 2 channel amp for the Kestrels and a Nakamichi av-10 for the remaining 3 channels. I opted to use the NAD mainly for 2 channel music listening and I am very glad I did! The Kestrels are so open and the soundstage is very detailed and deep. I am still amazed every time I listen to Eric Clapton's Reptile cd. It is an HDCD recording and I use an Ultech HDCD player, long story short, I get lost in the music very easily. I can listen for hours with no fatigue at all. I highly recommend the Kestrels used or the newer Kestrel II's. You would be hard pressed to find a better sounding speaker at the same price.